Sunday, 22 January 2023

Croatia Marks THIRTY Years of Official Golf Strategy Failure

January 22, 2023 - After an astonishing 30 years of official golf strategy in Croatia, is it time for someone to be accountable?

This is not an article about golf.

I also hereby state that I have no real opinion or expertise on the merits of golf tourism, and so I offer no opinion on whether or not golf tourism is a good thing or not.

This is an article which uses the official golf strategy in Croatia to highlight the seeming incompetence and unaccountability of those in official positions in charge of charting (and delivering) Croatia's tourism direction. 

While looking into the research for this article, I came across two rather unlikely anniversaries for golf in Croatia. 

Did you know that Croatia is celebrating 100 years of golf tourism in 2023? And that its golfing heritage have some claiming that it is home to the oldest golf resort (please note - resort, not golf course) in the world. From the Brijuni National Park official website:

The construction of the golf course on Brijuni was finished in late 1922, and the first tournament was held on 21 March 1923, a mention of which was published in the Pula daily newspaper at the time. The course was claimed to be one of the biggest in Europe. More recent information suggests that the Brijuni course might have been the first golf resort in the world. The course certainly stood out, not only because of its climate and position (Mediterranean destination in “Mitteleuropa”), but also because of its good reputation. Namely, although European championships were never played here, if you were to read the newspapers and journals of the time, you would have got the sense that the course was exceptionally well-known and recognised, both among golf champions and the upper classes. In addition to world-class golfers, the course was frequented by members of the European aristocracy, the most renowned industrialists and artists. Up to 50 tournaments a year would take place on the course of Brijuni, and the trophies for the best players were finally presented at the New Year's Eve ball and gala dinner. 

The second anniversary Croatian golf is celebrating is even more unlikely given the state of play today (unless you have an insider appreciation of the genius of the Kings of Accidental Tourism): Croatia has now had golf tourism as a key component of its official tourism strategy for THIRTY years, since it first appeared in 1993, in the middle of the Homeland War (see the official document in Narodne Novine):

The new construction of content and capacities in tourism should be focused on the construction of quality additions to the existing offer (golf courses, fitness, etc.). Likewise. it is necessary, when investing (in new or existing facilities), to especially stimulate the construction of hotels of only higher and higher categories (four and five stars), and to stimulate them with tax and communal policy.

In the development and investment sphere, at the level of full state support, several so-called "project shock". These are, above all, projects such as Brijuni, the city of Dubrovnik (a new marina and residential center in the old city center), Tustica near Zadar (a large complex of nautical, golf and exclusive accommodation), the Goli otok project. Opatija, and, possibly, the project of revitalization and bringing the castles of Hrvatski Zagorje into tourist exploitation. In addition, in almost every large tourist company (combination) until yesterday, it is necessary to define and start a basic project that affects any restructuring.

golf-tourism3.png

(Croatia.hr screenshot)

Croatia currently has three 18-hole golf courses, some 30 years later. Brijuni, which opened in 1922, Zapresic near Zagreb (2004), and Golf Adriatic near Savudrija near the Slovenian border, which opened in 2009. The Croatian National Tourist Board tried to have us believe there was an 18-hole golf course called Dolina Kardinala in the middle of Central Zagreb a few years ago, before they removed it when I pointed this out (read more in Tourism Quiz of the Summer: How Many Golf Courses Will Croatia Have Next Week?).

They were right to remove it. Dolina Kardinala closed in 2012, and this is how it looked from a drone tour a few years ago. 

So in 2013, on the 20th anniversary of Croatia's official golf tourism strategy which had yielded just two courses in that time, in addition to the one which opened 90 years previously, the 7-years tourism strategic plan was presented. One could argue that 2 courses in 20 years was not exactly a roaring success, but it did not seem to deter the Kings of Accidental Tourism, who once more put golf at the heart of their long-term strategy. 

golf-tourism-strategy.webp

Not only a healthy interest in golf, but no less than 30 golf courses were to be constructed over the next 7 years, by 2020. Seriously impressive stuff! The strategy document (the link used to work for me, now I get a message of Forbidden 403...):

The 2020 tourism development strategy foresees the construction of 30 new high-quality golf courses, roughly at the following locations: 14 in the northern Adriatic, 8 in the southern Adriatic, and 8 in continental Croatia.

By 2020, the end of the 7-year plan, not a single course had been started. Nobody seemed to mind or make a comment, the 7-year plan had come to an end. 

Indeed, such is the relaxed pace of life in the Kingdom of Accidental Tourism that for the next two years, there wasn't an official strategy document at all, as the next 7-year plan was being worked on. I think I am correct in saying it still has not been officially released some three years later. 

So Croatian tourism has been rudderless without an official 7-year plan for almost three years. Has anyone even noticed?

golf-in-croatia.webpBack to the golf. The plans looked very pretty indeed. 

The difference between Croatia and tiny Slovenia next door is that the Slovenian golf courses were actually real - here is a guide to the 13 Slovenian golf courses compiled by the Total Slovenia News team a few years ago. 

Having marvelled at the genius of the Kingdom's methods over the years, one thing I have learned is that if the Kings are doing nothing, they sure know how to look busy and tell everyone how busy they are, as we explored a few years ago in No Courses Started in 10 Years, But THREE Croatian Golf Tourism Conferences in 2019.

That sure is busy. 

The other thing to do to look busy if nothing is happening is to order an expensive report to show how busy you are. And so the 2017 Golf Action Plan was born.

golf-jack.webp

In the redacted edition of the report, there is mention of two quite special projects - Porto Mariccio in Istria, and Srdj above Dubrovnik.  The latter is currently the subject of a US$500 million lawsuit against the Republic of Croatia, from memory under arbitration in Washington in a suit filed by the Israeli investor, and Porto Mariccio is my favourite Croatian golfing story, for it involves one of the greatest names in golf, the late Jack Niklaus. The Golden Bear arrived with great fanfare in 2016 and was met at the airport by the then Prime Minister Ivo Sanadar (before he went to prison). Nicklaus announced a 200 million euro golf resort called Porto Mariccio in Istria. With the Prime Minister's very public backing, that had to be a cert, surely?  

I contacted the Jack Nicklaus Course Design company in 2018, some 12 years later, while researching Whatever Happened to Jack Nicklaus' Croatian Golf Course, Approved by PM Sanader? asking about their involvement, to get this response:

Unfortunately we have not had any communication with the Porto Mariccio project in a number of years and are unable to provide any update for you.

So here we are in 2023, celebrating 100 years of golf tourism in Croatia, and analysing 30 years of official golf tourism strategy. So where are we? Director of the Croatian National Tourist Board Kristjan Stanicic took time out from issuing SLAPP lawsuits against fat bloggers and gave a quite extraordinary interview to Novi List recently. You can read my take on his interview in Croatia National Tourist Board Finally Adopts Some of My Ideas. On golf, he had this to say:

One of those contents that we may already be a little bored with, but it is certainly golf. In no way to break the deadlock, we are aware that, for example, the south of Portugal and Spain are working on golf during the winter season. Climatically, we are very similar.

We are similar, but with the difference that there are very mild winters, which means that you can play golf all year round. We can use it in some southern destinations, islands, even Istria. But nothing happens overnight. There is a lot of talk about golf, it has been worked on for many years.

The esteemed director might be a little bored with golf, but I think the taxpayer would rather see some results, or at least a focus on some other niche that will have some results.

And perhaps a little accountability for the non-delivery of 30 out of the 30 golf courses to be delievered by 2020. Indeed, what are the results of these 30 years of official golf tourism strategy? 

Two golf courses and a lawsuit for half a billion dollars against. Good job!

But the final word perhaps should go to the official Croatian National Tourist Board website, which is celebrating 100 years of golf tourism. The 18-hole course from central Zagreb has gone, as have the other courses in Croatia. Here is the relevant information about 100 years of golf tourism and 30 years of official golf tourism strategy in the Kingdom of Accidental Tourism:

Your greatest hits

Despite only having a few courses with 18 holes at the moment, besides the one in Brijuni National Park and some private courses, Croatia aims to become a significant golf destination. Just relax during a game walking through fields surrounded by its idyllic countryside and enjoy its gentle climate to find out why.

Soon you’ll discover there is much more than meets the eye, they say that most company decisions are made on golf fields but the only decisions you will have to make are which vineyards to visit, where to go shopping, will you go sailing… or just keep playing one more hole!

As the Croatian National Tourist Board was keen to point out in their SLAPP lawsuits against me, I am not a tourism expert (nor did I claim to be). I don't know a lot about golf either, but one thing I do know is that they are called 'golf courses' not 'golf fields'. Perhaps we can organise another golf conference to discuss. 

Read more - 10 Things I Learned from my SLAPP Lawsuits in Croatia.

Golf in Zagreb? Bring Your Own Clubs, Kilts, Whisky and Bagpipes.

****

What is it like to live in Croatia? An expat for 20 years, you can follow my series, 20 Ways Croatia Changed Me in 20 Years, starting at the beginning - Business and Dalmatia.

Follow Paul Bradbury on LinkedIn.

Subscribe to the Paul Bradbury Croatia & Balkan Expert YouTube channel.

Croatia, a Survival Kit for Foreigners is now available on Amazon in paperback and on Kindle.

COVER.jpg

 

 

 

 

Sunday, 22 January 2023

Croatian Desserts: Tradition, Influences, Walnuts, Figs, Secrets

January 22, 2023 - On TCN we have started sharing recipes for traditional Croatian desserts, as well as desserts that might have originated elsewhere, but are traditionally made in Croatia. Before going too far, it's only right to properly present the categories. Exploring the wealth of desserts in Croatia, enjoy this lovely Sunday read written by Morana Zibar.

Just as the landscape, culture, and customs change from one Croatian region to the next, so do the Croatian desserts. From deep down in the Mediterranean south all the way to the fertile plains in the Danube region, the map of Croatian desserts is as impressive and plentiful as the country itself.

After their first encounter with Croatia, most people are amazed to see just how much diversity there is in such a small country. For comparison, the total area is less than the size of West Virginia. The diversity in Croatia comes from its geography, mostly. However, the influences from bigger neighboring countries and their cultures (Italian, French, Hungarian, Austrian, Turkish) found their way to the sweet department, too.

Yet, the basis of traditional sweets is always similar. Their background can usually be traced to the very simple and modest recipes of our grandmas. They used what was available and abundant, ordinary ingredients like eggs, flour, fresh cream and cheese, seasonal fruit and nuts like apples or walnuts. The really fancy stuff was kept for rare special occasions, and experimenting began only after the tradition had been firmly established.

Desserts in Zagreb and Central Croatia

Although Zagreb and northwestern Croatia seems like a small and fairly compact area, things do get complicated. There are many little sub-regions with their special features: Zagorje, Međimurje, Prigorje, Moslavina, Podravina… Plenty of similarities, but also a lot of differences. A common trait is that many traditional desserts here include dairy products. And what the folks lacked in exclusive ingredients and spices, they compensated for with creativity and dedication.

Zagreb is another story. While rural areas based their sweet heritage on simplicity, the bourgeois class in Zagreb looked up to Vienna. The citizens of Zagreb greatly admired the more elaborate, fancy desserts. These two basically separate traditions – peasant food and culinary bourgeoisie – began to overlap at some point, to mutual benefit.

Photo by Zagreb Tourist Board

Many typical Zagreb dishes, as well as desserts, originally stem from Viennese cuisine. Gradually, they evolved into local variations, taking on a life and identity of their own. The ubiquitous strudels and dumplings with plums or apricots are definitive proof of the region’s Austrian-Hungarian heritage. A quaint little place with strudels and other old-school Zagreb desserts is the Jakšić pastry shop just off Kvaternik Square. In popular downtown pastry shops like Vincek and Cukeraj, you can try Zagreb's signature cake modeled on the famous Sacher cake from Vienna. Local pastry masterminds even created a rich chocolate cake and named it after the famous historical figure - Jelačić torta.

Samobor and kremšnita

The little town of Sambor is home to one of the most famous Croatian desserts – kremšnita. Even though its variants are now a supermarket item all over Croatia, the original is something special. Protected and listed in the Register of Cultural Goods, the recipe was devised in the 1920s. It consists of two layers of puff pastry and fluffy custard cream in between. The U prolazu pastry shop and the Livadić café are the only two places with the authentic Samobor kremšnita on offer.

Photo by Samobor Tourist Board

If you visit small town fairs, like the one in Samobor, have some traditional paprenjaci (pepper cookies) and medenjaci (honey cookies). Also, pancakes with walnuts in wine sauce from Samobor's Gabreku 1929 restaurant are a must-try.

Zagorje and štrukli

Zagorski štrukli are the trademark of the Zagorje region. This handmade pillow-shaped dough with a filling of cottage cheese, eggs and cream is very versatile. Štrukli can easily be a starter, main course or dessert, either savory or sweet. The sweet version contains some sugar or even fruit, fresh cream on top and into the oven it goes. La Štruk in Zagreb is štrukli heaven, while the ones at the Esplanade hotel are an institution.

Photo by Zagreb Tourist Board

Međimurska gibanica is the flagship of Međimurje, one of the richest and most complex traditional Croatian desserts. Layers of phyllo dough are the basis of the gibanica, as always. Between those layers of dough? Almost everything they could find: cottage cheese, walnuts, apple, and poppy seeds. A meal on its own, indeed. The one in the sophisticated Mala hiža restaurant is to die for.

Photo by Međimurje Tourist Board

In almost all parts of continental Croatia, especially in the countryside, orehnjača (walnut roll, sometimes also called the orahnjača) and makovnjača (poppy seed roll) are standard. It seems that each region brought its own touch to this basically simple cake. Zlevanka is a simple pie from the northern regions, boasting a combination of cornflour and cottage cheese.

Photo of orehnjača

Slavonia and the Danube Region

The east of Croatia is unfortunately not so prominent on the tourist map. It has, however, always been known as the place where people express their hospitality and friendship with food. (Think of Italian grandmas, but with heavier artillery.) Returning home with a few extra pounds is quite normal. On top of that, it has traditionally been the ground where vegetarians fear to tread (don’t worry, that’s changing now). The cuisine of Slavonia stands for a lot of meat and fat, hearty dishes and huge portions, but also a lot of comfort and happiness. The desserts follow the same principles. And they just keep coming, as almost every social gathering eventually turns into a festival of treats.

Croatian desserts in Slavonia come in all forms and sizes, from creamy and buttery cakes for festive occasions to simple little sweets. The genre of so-called wedding cookies actually served on a wider range of occasions, is true art. There are probably hundreds of them. Some of the most popular are breskvicečupavcioraščićibećar šnitevanili kiflejulka šnitebijela pita...

Mađarica

Mađarica, the ultimate crowd pleaser and an icon among Croatian desserts is particularly good in this area. Its name literally means a Hungarian girl, but nobody knows its exact origin. Basically, it’s just layers of dough and chocolate buttercream. Seems simple, but takes a lot of effort to make. Women often compete whose mađarica will have more layers!

Mađarica, photo by Morana Zibar

Salenjak is something like a Slavonian croissant. It is puff pastry wraps, filled with homemade jam. But, it has a secret ingredient: lard is used, not butter! Dessert with the funniest name is most probably poderane gaće – torn underpants. Imagine a doughnut, but flattened, very simple, and often found as a sweet snack sold at fairs. Bazlamača is an old-fashioned pie similar to zlevanka, but often topped with jam or walnuts.

Photo of tačkrle by Baranja Tourist Board

Tačkrle or taške is a traditional take on ravioli: potato dough, filled with plum jam and topped with breadcrumbs in butter. Strudelspies, and pancakes are an import, but nowhere are they as rich and mouthwatering as in east Croatia.

Croatian desserts in Istria and Kvarner

Istria is known as the region with a very developed gourmet scene, which goes hand in hand with its blooming tourism. This is the area where the Mediterranean meets the Alps, where Venetian and Austrian influence helped shape the local tradition into something unique. You can dine either in Michelin-star establishments or rural taverns and family farms. The style will be different, but the service and food will be equally good.

Pasta dishes are a staple of Istria, so a lot of desserts are pasta-like and pastry based. Kroštule are a simple treat, a perfect companion to a brandy at the end of a meal. In the past, these crispy deep-fried little ribbons were associated with the carnival season, but now they are here all year round. One of the most peculiar and delicious Croatian desserts can be found only around the town of https://www.total-croatia.com/labin/">Labin – labinski krafi. Basically, it’s a sweet ravioli with a heavenly filling of cheese, raisins, brandy or rum, lemon zest. You can have krafi served with a savory sauce. However, when they are meant as dessert, you get a decadent sweet sauce on top.

Povitica is a local version of the walnut roll, but made in the shape of a Bundt cake. It is a traditional part of the Easter menu. Pandišpanj is a simple, aromatic sponge cake with lemon and orange zest. One of those old-fashioned cakes that don't capture attention with their looks, but certainly do with their taste. The same goes for bucolaj, a traditional sweet bread, perfect for breakfast, with milk.

International classics with local twists

There are adaptations of some international classics. Whipped zabajon comes from the Italian zabaglione, but it's made with local Muscat wine. Likewise, the Austrian Schneenockerln (floating islands) became paradižet in Istria and Dalmatia, while it is šnenokle in the continental part. Restaurants will often serve their take on Italian favorites like tiramisupanna cotta or semifreddo.

Šnenokle or paradižet, photo by Morana Zibar

To add a very distinctive local touch to anything, including desserts - just add truffles! Istria is the truffle country of Croatia, so don't say no if somebody offers a cake or ice cream with truffles. Most artisan shops will certainly have products like chocolate bars, pralines or spreads with truffles. The town of Lovran on the Kvarner Riviera is the capital of chestnuts. When they are in season, all will be full of chestnut-based desserts. The highlight is the traditional Marunada festival in October. To keep it simple, just grab the classic chestnut purée in the charming Kaokakao patisserie in Volosko or Opatija.

Kvarner Islands

Kvarner islands do have their own peculiarities on the dessert menu, but they are not easy to find. Bukaleta is a great little off-the-beaten-track tavern on the island of Cres. They are specialists for lamb dishes, but also have two almost forgotten traditional desserts. Combine sheep suet, flour, dried figs, raisins, and spice, mash and boil them together and then slice the result - you get olitoGrašnjaci are little round fritters, filled with jam and walnuts. Sheep-farming has a long tradition on the islands, so skuta, sheep's milk curd cheese is a common ingredient in homemade desserts. Another fine example of using fresh dairy is presnac from the island of Krk. It consists of pastry base and a sweet sheep's milk cheese filling.

Rabska torta, photo by TZ Rab

On the other hand, you won't have any problems finding the famous rabska torta, the pride of https://www.total-croatia.com/rab-island/">Rab. This beautiful and original spiral-shaped cake made from ground almonds, flour, lard, maraschino, sugar, eggs, lemon, and orange zest goes back to the 12th century. The story goes that even Pope Alexander III enjoyed it greatly when he had some in 1177. The place to overdose on it is Kuća rabske torte (The House of Rab Cake) in the old town of Rab. Muštaćoni are Rab's delicious native cookies, with almonds, chocolate, and mixed spice.

Gorski Kotar and Lika

The mountain area dividing the coastline from the continental Croatia is a beautiful green wilderness full of forests and mountains. Not much farmed or populated, but certainly has its representatives on the list of Croatian desserts. Things do grow there, but mostly on their own, in the woods. This is the land of delicious wild berries and some of the best honey in the country, among other things. These two regions gave a significant contribution to the genre of strudels and pies.

Gorski Kotar is famous for its wild blueberry strudel. Try it in Bitoraj or Volta, well-known restaurants in Fužine.

Photo by Gorski Kotar Tourist Board

The cuisine of Lika is very traditional and humble, everything revolves around meat, potato, cabbage, and dairy. Desserts pretty much follow the same direction, but don't disappoint. Masnica is a rich pie filled with cream, cheese, onion, prosciutto, raisins - it can be either savory or sweet. Lički uštipci are delicious, deep-fried balls of dough (and joy!), similar to Dalmatian fritule. Sometimes the dough includes dried plums or raisins, but originally they're just plain. Thousands of visitors flock to Plitvice Lakes, but Plitvice strudel has its fans, too. Triangle-shaped, with a bit thicker pastry, it has a rich filling that can include cottage cheese, apples, walnuts, sour cherries, or poppy seed. Lička kuća restaurant, inside the national park, offers an authentic version of cheesecake. Basa, a very local version of creamy soft cheese, goes into it.

Mediterranean Influences on Desserts in Dalmatia

On the Dalmatian Coast, you've reached the genuine Mediterranean. A lot of olive oil, aromatic herbs, figs, almonds, oranges, lemons, carob... It's all there. Obviously, Dalmatia shares a lot of basic recipes and procedures with the rest of the Mediterranean basin. The Italian influence is quite strong because, throughout history, the Venetian Republic and Italy ruled large parts of Dalmatia. Yet, every town and every island is also proud of its authentic culinary heritage. One thing almost all Croatian desserts there have in common is a lot of pleasant, seductive aromas typical for the Adriatic.

The little balls of joy you often see at street food stalls are fritule. Simple round fritters aromatized with brandy were once a staple of any festive season. But since they are easy to make and irresistible, they are now here all the time. On the other hand, sirnica (pinca is its continental counterpart) is still traditionally prepared only for Easter. It's a simple sweet bread, with the wonderful aroma of lemon zest and rum, or brandy. On the more exotic side, baškotini are one of the best-kept secrets of the island of Pag. These toasted biscuits, perfect for dipping in latte, have been baked in St. Margaret's Convict in Pag for centuries.

Fritule, photo by Šibenik Tourist Board

Korčula desserts

When it comes to small everyday cookies, the island of Korčula is the champion. Its most famous sweet treats are cukarinklašun, and amareta. Unusually shaped, crisp, and simple, cukarin needs to have a companion: a glass of sweet wine called prošek. Crescent-shaped and tender klašun is filled with almonds or nuts, including rose liqueur, lemon zest and spice. As the name suggests, amareta is made from ground almonds. Meet them all, as well as some original creations, in the legendary Cukarin pastry shop.

Photo by Korčula Tourist Board

There is yet another crisp and aromatic cookie in many Dalmatian places, especially in Trogir. It is called rafiol. Although the name suggests a connection with the ravioli pasta, the two are totally different. Rafiol is actually a sugar-coated, crescent-shaped cookie with an aromatic filling. The recipes for the filling vary; usually, it includes ground almonds or nuts, but also chocolate.

Rafioli by Morana Zibar

Trademark cakes in Dalmatian cities

Split, the largest Dalmatian city, impresses with its ancient architecture, but also with splitska torta - Split cake. Layers of meringue mixed with almonds, dried figs and raisins are filled with orange-infused buttercream. Yes, it's a calorie bomb, but one you can't refuse. Oš kolač artisan pastry shop is a great place to try modern interpretations of Split's favorite desserts. Many Dalmatian cities have their trademark cake; rich, luxurious and made for special occasions. This tradition usually doesn't go to far back: just like we mentioned before, the trademark cake comes with the rise of the middle class. When the expensive ingredients like chocolate, refined sugar, or mixed spice became widely available, desserts were taken to the next level.

Skradinska torta from Skradin is something really special. Special enough to be served to the newlyweds before their first nuptial night. A mixture of eggs, sugar, rose liqueur, honey, ground walnuts and almonds is baked and glazed with dark chocolate. Imotska torta, from Imotski, is a tart, consisting of a pastry base and almond filling with spice and aromatic liqueur.

Torta Makarana by the Makarska Tourist Board

Torta makarana, from Makarska, is the queen of any festive occasion. The pastry base is filled with a mixture of ground almonds, eggs, sugar, citrus juice and zest, spices, and aromatic liqueur. This one has an interesting history, traced back to 1838. It was served to Frederick Augustus III, the last king of Saxony, who was so delighted that he named it.

Endemic cakes, found in one place only!

A very endemic cake is still around on the island of Brač, more precisely - in the village of Dol. Hrapaćuša has a layer of sponge and a layer of thick sweet nuts, sugar, and egg whites mixture. The name comes from a type of stone used for building houses in Dol. And don't even try getting the recipe: a handful of local families guard it with their life!

Hrapaćuša cake, photo by Morana Zibar

And speaking of strange desserts, nothing beats Stonska torta, the cake from Ston. It's made from a local pasta called makaruli, similar to penne tubes. They are joined by a mixture of ground almonds or walnuts, grated chocolate, cinnamon, and lemon zest, plus eggs and butter, all coated with more dough.

Everywhere you look, there's a fig

The south is full of fig trees, offering their sweet soft fruits in the summer. Of course some of those will end up in Croatian desserts! In Zadar, there's a charming little festival dedicated to figs, and in Pet bunara restaurant you can taste their original creation called Šinjorina Smokva cake. Dried figs are used to make smokvenjak, a great way to preserve memories of summer on long winter days. How do you make it? Ground dried figs with a bit of brandy, maybe some almonds or herbs. Either flat and round or shaped like salami, you cut it little by little. Smokvenjak loves the company of homemade herbal brandy. On the island of Vis it is known as hib.

Rožata, photo by Dubrovnik Tourist Board

Something a bit lighter and wobblier than all those heavy cakes comes from Dubrovnik. Rožata or Rozata is usually defined as the local version of crème caramel. Nowadays you can find it all along the coast. It is a delicious custard pudding with caramel topping, but the secret lies in the local rose liqueur. And all those beautiful bitter oranges that don't make it as zest? Arančini are the candy of Dalmatia - candied orange peel. The version with lemon is called limončini.

Arancini

Throw in some candied almonds while you're at it as well - bruštulane mendule. Let's not forget, Hvar is the island of lavander. So why not use it in artisan chocolates and pralines, together with other Mediterranean ingredients? At Gamulin Chocolates they can show us how.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated Lifestyle section.

Saturday, 21 January 2023

Croatian Ski Resort Platak Finally Welcoming Visitors for Ski Season 2023

January 21, 2023 - Platak is one of Croatia's famous ski resorts, located near Rijeka, not too far from Zagreb either. It is perfect for a little winter family getaway or just a weekend in the snow. After a slightly longer wait, the 2023 ski season seems to finally be here. Platak is being prepared and will be welcoming visitors from Tuesday, 24 January.

As Index reports, after the much-needed cold weather arrived, the snowmaking system was started on Platak. If everything goes according to plan, the ski resort will be open on Tuesday, January 24, according to the regional sports centre.

There is 25 to 30 cm of natural snow on Platak

The director of the Regional (Goranski) sports centre, Alen Udovič, told Hina that the snowmaking system was started last night to prepare a high-quality snow surface in time and enable as many skiing days as possible, and it will work until Monday.

There is now 25 to 30 centimeters of natural snow on Platak, which, he added, had first fallen on the wet and warm ground, but now, after cooling down, it is slowly compacting. Udovič said that, according to the weather forecast, Platak can expect several cold and windy days and that additional amounts of natural snow are possible.

He announced that even during this weekend, skiers and ski schools would be able to use a baby trail on Platak, while sledders would use the baby lift to take them to the lower part of the Pribeniš trail.

Next week, depending on the weather, night skiing on Tuesdays and Fridays will be possible in addition to day skiing every day. Udovič also announced that from January 27 to 29, the 2nd edition of the international race European Skibike Cup would be held on Platak for the second time, expecting 40 competitors from 11 countries.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated Lifestyle section.

 

Saturday, 21 January 2023

Makarska Volunteers Help Rebuild a Banovina Family Home

January 21, 2023 - Three Makarska volunteers, the people behind the initiative "Makarska Riviera and Friends - With Hearts for Petrinja" truly deserved the "Pride of Croatia" award. Their kindness of people gathered around the action helped restore the house of Božidar Boltužić's family of six in Jabukovec near Petrinja.

As HRT / Poslovni write, this is the first completely renovated home in the area affected by the earthquake.

"After the earthquake, the structural engineers came, followed by Mijo Pašalić, Škaro and Jovica Šegan who told us that they would help us rebuild the house," says Božidar Boltužić, Jabukovac.

Four months after they made that promise, the old house was demolished, and the work on the new one lasted until the beginning of September. The fully equipped two-story house was ready to move into. All good things happen spontaneously, and so did this story, according to the friends who started the initiative and, despite numerous obstacles, finished the job brilliantly. And it all started - the day after New Year's Eve. Over a coffee.

"At one point, it dawned on me - look how nice we have it here, we're having fun, and just two days ago, unfortunately, a huge tragedy happened in Petrinja", said Josko Šarić Škaro, Makarska.

On the second day of New Year 2021, Josko and Jovica headed to Petrinja. There was no time to waste, they knew, and they wanted to help at least one unfortunate family. The home of the Boltužić family was completely unusable, and the family had no alternative accommodation.

"We collected the documentation and when we had everything according to the construction law, we demolished the existing building. It is important to point out is that we wanted the facility to be in the existing dimensions that the family had before, not to make a smaller facility," says Jovica Šegan, Makarska.

The 230-square-meter house cost almost HRK 1,400,000. Seventy-five Makarska volunteers joined the initiative of these three successful entrepreneurs. "We are proud of how it started, how many people we gathered and how it all ended beautifully. After eight months of preparation and construction, we are incredibly proud", concluded Mijo Pašalić.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated Lifestyle section.

Saturday, 21 January 2023

Croatia Receives First World Accreditation for Medical Tourism

January 21, 2023 - The prestigious "Gold Seal of Approval®" certificate is awarded by the world's leading accreditation institution, Joint Commission International (JCI). Sveta Katarina received one, sure to boost medical tourism in Croatia.

As Poslovni writes, the Special Hospital Sveta Katarina is the first healthcare institution in Croatia to receive the prestigious "Gold Seal of Approval®" certificate from the world's leading accreditation institution in the field of healthcare, the Joint Commission International (JCI). This opens the way for them to the American market, increases the competitiveness of the Croatian healthcare system, and can also serve as motivation for other players in medical tourism; they pointed out at a press conference in Sveta Katarina, which Minister of Tourism Nikolina Brnjac also attended.

As explained by Igor Borić, director of the Special Hospital Sveta Katarina, it became the first Croatian healthcare institution accredited by JCI. It is determined to work in accordance with the most demanding global healthcare standards, both in the provision of healthcare and in the area of patient safety, which includes prevention, early detection, elimination, and improvement of protection against unwanted events during the healthcare process. JCI accreditation represents the highest accreditation standard in healthcare; it is highly demanding, the evaluation process is multi-year, and it is held by the world's leading healthcare institutions, including the Mayo Clinic and the Cleveland Clinic.

All holders, including Sveta Katarina, receive their certificates for three years, followed by re-accreditation.

"This accreditation also means that all American citizens who use the services of our hospital will have the right to reimbursement from their American insurer, which is a significant step that many larger institutions in European countries do not dare to take, partly because it is public information if you do not pass the accreditation. This procedure involves many participants, effort, and investment. In it, we compare ourselves with the most successful in the world", said Dragan Primorac, president of the hospital's Administrative Council, pointing out that this accreditation opens the door for other institutions in Croatia to follow the same path.

Minister Nikolina Brnjac reminded us that medical tourism is an important component in the new tourism strategy and the project financing program from the National Plan for Recovery and Resilience. Jadranka Primorac confirmed that Sveta Katarina has projects that can compete for subsidies from NPOO.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated Travel section.

Friday, 20 January 2023

Bread Club Zagreb to Represent Croatia in Its First Baking Olympics

January 20, 2023 - Bread Club co-owners Darko Kušić and Andrija Pernar will represent Croatia at an important baking competition this weekend in Rimini, Italy. They're going with traditional Croatian recipes, soparnik and čvarkuša.

As Jutarnji writes, along with masters of gelato and coffee, SIGEP, the World Dolce Expo, also hosts an international competition, a sort of Olympic Games of the baking world. Nine countries are participating this year, and one of them is none other than Croatia. The nation's representatives are a team from the super popular Zagreb bakery Bread Club - its co-owners Darko Kušić and Andrija Pernar.

"The whole thing works on the principle of invitations, and Croatia was invited to participate for the first time this year. All competitors must be members of the Richemont club; that's one of the conditions," Andrija Pernar told Jutarnji in a short phone conversation just before leaving for the competition.

The competition will be held over two days, and on the first day, the contestants only have an hour to prepare their dough. The next day, they have to finish the products in five categories in only eight hours.

"We will make ciabatta, one of the default categories, and it is made to exact weight, according to the Italian recipe. There is no compromise. Another category is freestyle bread, and we will make our porridge bread, a bread inspired by proja (corn meal), our white Grandfather's bread, and another bread with horsebean protein. In the tarts category, we will make two sweet varieties, inspired by the Croatian poppy seed roll and the Dubrovnik rožata, as well as two savory kinds, which we have made based on the traditional recipes of Viška pogača and Soparnik.

We will also make Margherita pizza, along with our version with cheese, sour cream, and kulen; while some of our other dishes include čvarkuša, a bread roll with Croatian bacon and cheese, Croatian kiflice and a sandwich with škripavac cheese and Nin šokol (dried cured pork neck). We decided to focus on tradition; we believe that to be the recipe for a good ranking," explained Darko Kušić.

They added that the grading system is quite strict and look at every detail. Each product must be precisely the specified weight. Precision is key, and any deviation is penalized with negative points.

For example, the team of bakers from China has been preparing for this for the last year, and they're sending three teams to Italy in case the first line-up is prevented from performing for some reason. This only goes to show how serious this competition is. By the way, the Chinese representatives also designed a replica of their kitchen just for this competition to make their work easier.

"Everything is done from scratch; we are not even allowed to bring a mature starter. We will knead the puff pastry dough on the first day and laminate it on the second. We must ensure we get it all done in eight hours, which is quite challenging. Given that we only recently opened our new production facilities, along with another branch, we have only been practicing for the competition for the last two months", commented Darko and Andrija and added that they believe their biggest competition is the Italian team. "We met them, and they are absolutely the masters of the craft," they added.

In the end, Jutarnji asked if they planned to keep any products from the competition in Bread Club's permanent offer.

"Extremely intense months are behind us, during which we prepared and tested new products with our team. All our products are made with filigree precision and with special love, so we are looking forward to putting everything we worked so hard on into production," they said. Good luck to Bread Club, and we're looking forward to tasting more of their world-class pastries soon!

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated Lifestyle section.

Friday, 20 January 2023

Croatian State Inspectorate Claims Some Stores Raised Prices by 126%!

January the 20th, 2023 - The Croatian State Inspectorate has been on the hunt for those stores and goods and services providers unjustifiably raising their prices and has uncovered some startling price hikes.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, ever since January the 5th, 2023, when the Croatian Government adopted a conclusion on the implementation of the principle of prohibiting unjustified price increases, the Market and Tourist Inspection of the Croatian State Inspectorate has been carrying out increased inspections aimed at determining whether there has been an increase in the prices of goods and services immediately before the introduction of the euro as the country's new official currency.

Inspections are being carried out on the basis of the Law on the State Inspectorate, the Law on the introduction of the euro as the official currency in the Republic of Croatia, the Law on Consumer Protection and as a result of the aforementioned Conclusion of the government.

Until January the 19th, the Croatian State Inspectorate carried out a total of 1,145 inspections. In 25.2% of the performed inspections, excluding inspections in which the facts are still being determined (163 of them), unjustified price increases which took place December the 31st, 2022 were found.

Out of the total number of inspections, the market inspection of the Croatian State Inspectorate carried out 659 inspections (of which there were 282 inspections of service providers, 280 inspections in retail trade and 97 inspections into retail bakery products).

In the supervision of the market inspection, unfair business practices involving unjustified price increases were found in a concerning 87 cases, of which in 53 cases were discovered in service activities, 19 in the activity of retail trade in bakery products and 15 in other forms of retail trade.

The average unjustified increase in service prices stands at 20%, and in some cases the increase has reached a disgusting 126%. For example, the Croatian State Inspectorate found an increase in photography services of 57%, individual hairdressing services by 126%, private parking services by 25%, self-service car wash services by 50%, and that list goes on and on a bit more.

In the retail trade sector, an unjustified increase of 17% was determined on average for controlled products after December the 31st, 2022, for example - chicken and turkey meat, dried meat products, water, juice, eggs, confectionery, dairy products, animal feed, canned vegetables, all shot up considerably.

Likewise, in the retail trade of bakery products, we've been continuing to record an increase in the prices of both bread and other bakery products of up to 15% on average, and exceptionally, for some inspections, an increase of 20 to 30% was found for individual bakery products. Tourism inspectors carried out 486 inspections, of which in 161 inspections (33.1%) they came across an unjustified increase in the prices of catering and hospitality services.

In 72.6% of the completed inspections in which unjustified price increases were found, business entities returned their retail prices to the levels they were at back on December the 31st, 2022 immediately.

Due to the violation of unfair business practices from 149 of the Act on Consumer Protection, fines are being imposed on all business entities that unjustifiably increased their prices after December the 31st, 2022, that is, from January the 1st, 2023 until the day of the completed inspection.

In the completed inspections, 234 fines in the amount of 399,489.09 euros (3,009,950.55 kuna) were issued with their accompanying misdemeanor orders against business entities. Croatian State Inspectorate inspections will continue in the name of consumer protection with each inspection being part of its own respective jurisdiction.

For more, make sure to check out our news section.

Friday, 20 January 2023

Looking for a Job in Croatia? This Week's Top 10 from Posao.hr (January 20, 2023)

January 20, 2023 - Looking for a job in Croatia? A new weekly feature on TCN, in partnership with leading job site agency, Posao.hr, who present a selection of weekly job listings.

How hard is it to find a job in Croatia, and what is on offer?

We spoke to Ines Bokan, director of leading jobs site Posao.hr, who kindly took the time for this excellent interview overview.  

PLIVA Hrvatska d.o.o. is hiring a person for the position of Senior specialist in human resources administration with knowledge of the Polish language (m/f). Place of work Zagreb. Excellent spoken and written knowledge of the Polish language is mandatory, along with a good command of the English language. Send complete applications via link until Jan 22nd.

Sunce Hoteli d.d. / Bluesun is hiring a person in the position of Specialist in Human Resources (m/f). Place of work Tučepi, Brela. Possibility of additional prizes and bonuses. Send complete applications via link until Jan 31th.

MED-EL Elektromedizinische Geräte GmbH is hiring a person for the position of Software Test Engineer (m/w/d) - Research & Development. Place of work Innsbruck, Tirol - Österreich. Send complete applications via link by Feb 18th.

Kempinski Hotel is hiring a person for the position of Director of Food & Beverage (m/f). Place of work Riga, Latvia. Send complete applications via link by Feb 15th.

Aluflexpack Novi d.o.o. is hiring a person in the position of IT specialist (m/f). Place of work Drniš. Knowledge of network technologies (TCP/IP, DHCP, DNS), MS Windows Server operating systems is an advantage. Send complete applications via link by Feb 08th.

dotSource is hiring a DevOps Engineer (f/m/x). Place of work Rijeka. Your work-life balance is important to us – flexible working hours, home office and fitness incentives. Send complete applications via link by Feb 11th.

Tesla is hiring a person in the position of Mechanical / Electrical Technician (m/f). Gigafactory location Berlin - Brandenburg, Germany. Support for moving and traveling to work. Send complete applications via link by February 10th.

Scalable Global Solutions d.d. is hiring a person in the position of C#/.NET Software Developer (m/f/d). Workplace Zagreb. Experience in the development of software for real-time systems or embedded systems. Send complete applications via link until Jan 31th.

Rittmeyer AG is hiring a person for the position of Project Manager IT (a). Place of work Baar, Switzerland. We also offer attractive employment conditions and are a well-positioned company in a market environment with future potential. Send complete applications via link by Feb 3rd.

Eumetsat is hiring a Remote Sensing Scientist – Hyperspectral Infrared Level-2 Products (m/f) for work in Darmstadt, Germany. The company is offering an excellent salary of up to 7.500 € net per month, flexible working time, private medical coverage, and much more. Apply via this link by Feb 2nd.

saveas.JPG

For more career options and job listings, visit posao.hr.

tk8llxpXbN03LWoX.png

These weekly job listings will appear in the weekly TCN newsletter - you can subscribe here.

****

What is it like to live in Croatia? An expat for 20 years, you can follow my series, 20 Ways Croatia Changed Me in 20 Years, starting at the beginning - Business and Dalmatia.

Follow Paul Bradbury on LinkedIn.

Croatia, a Survival Kit for Foreigners is now available on Amazon in paperback and on Kindle.

Friday, 20 January 2023

A Week in Croatian Politics - Davos, Bureaucracy Injections and Price Hikes

January the 20th, 2023 - This week in Croatian politics, we've still more or less been talking non stop about inflation, Schengen and Eurozone entry and of course - ongoing price increases, but that isn't all. From meetings with Azerbaijani officials and Google's top brass to new ways of injecting even more bureaucracy, let's take a glance at the last week.

The government is set to introduce a special ID card for state institution employees, a move which will cost millions

Just when you thought Croatia couldn't possibly have more forms of card that you need to carry around with you, it goes and introduces yet another one, this time for the employees of state bodies. Yes, you're right, this is precisely what the country needs to be spending time on during difficult social and economic times. Still, we may as well visit the subject - as Index reports, despite being firmly in the shadow of the heated debate regarding the military training of Ukrainian soldiers in Croatia, the final proposal of the law on the official identity cards for state body employees, has remained strong.

Here we have just another way of spreading the plague of needless, time wasting bureaucracy among the Croats, and it is going to cost a pretty penny (or two). What is an official ID card for a state employee anyway, and why bother with it? Those are valid questions, so here is what Article 4 of the Final Bill on the matter says: "An official ID card is an electronic public document by which an employee of a state body proves their official status and electronic identity."

"An official ID card is to be used as a means of electronic identification and authentication to access electronic services, to activate other authentication or signature means, and to sign acts for which the user of the official ID card is authorised," it is stated in paragraph 3 of the same article.

In addition to the above, this card "can be used for physical identification and contactless application for the purpose of registering entry into the premises of a state body and for other purposes prescribed by special regulations".

I'm sure you'll agree that this additional bureacratisation in a society already perversely obsessed with red tape is something that we all really require.

There is plenty of opposition to this, both from the world of Croatian politics and from various other experts in this field. Most people will oppose the sheer amount of cash coming from somewhere that will be poured into this. 

The opposition criticised this idea last summer, believing that this law is utterly redundant, unnecessary, that without it the state would have saved a massive 5.8 million kuna, and so on.

"This law makes no sense, it should be withdrawn, why the new cost?'' asked Zeljko Pavic, a parliamentarian for the Social Democrats, who also went on to explain that there are already ready-made services that can be used without such ID cards which enable greater flexibility.

State Secretary Josip Salapic also stated that these identity cards "are in line with the development of the information society and digitisation", which is why it is "necessary to enable state and judicial officials as well as civil servants and state employees both simple and quick access to various databases and applications that are used to perform business and electronic signature of acts".

He added that around 60,000 official state body employee ID cards now need to be changed, of which 30,000 would be financed with EU funds. The new cards would be valid for three years, and one would cost 125 kuna.

Plenkovic has been busy meeting with all and sundry, from Google's boss to the the president of Azerbaijan

PM Andrej Plenkovic has recently held numerous bilateral meetings on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, with, among others, the Secretary General of the OECD, the President of the European Investment Bank, the head of Google and the head of Visa Europe.

He took to the social media platform Twitter to tweet that he had met with Werner Hoyer, head of the European Investment Bank (EIB), an institution which, at least according to Plenkovic, has so far directed seven billion euros through various loans to both the public and private sectors in Croatia.

"We're discussing project cooperation as well as global financial challenges," the tweet reads.

In Davos, the Prime Minister also met with representatives of the Global Citizen organisation, whose activities, as he wrote, Croatia continues to strongly support. At the meeting with the Secretary General of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), Mathias Cormann, he discussed Croatia's accession to Schengen and the Eurozone as the final strategic step of the country's integration into the circle of the most developed countries in the world.

"We also exchanged opinions regarding the economic situation in Europe and efforts to overcome energy and inflationary pressures," tweeted Plenkovic.

Meetings with the head of Google, the president of Azerbaijan, the president of the European Parliament also took place during what was a very busy week for the PM. Google's president of global affairs, Kent Walker, was also on the list of Plenkovic's meetings, as was the head of Visa Europe, Charlotte Hogg, with whom he discussed potential cooperation and investments.

He discussed the further strengthening of relations between Croatia and Azerbaijan with an emphasis placed primarily on energy and economic cooperation with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, and he also met with the President of the European Parliament, Roberta Metsola.

"We're grateful to the European Parliament for supporting Croatia's accession to Schengen and the Eurozone. We've been discussing the continuation of aid to Ukraine, the European [Union] path of Southeastern Europe, and the green and digital transition," concluded the Prime Minister on Twitter.

He also met with the Serbian President, Aleksandar Vucic.

Economist Damir Novotny claims that the government is trying to turn the trade sector into ''enemy number one''

What with the recent introduction of the euro as Croatia's official currency and the scrapping of the kuna, price hikes as a result of inflation and of the introduction of the new currency have been the hottest topic since the new year began. The government has stepped in and has involved all of the relevant authorities in making sure those stores and service/goods providers who are unjustifiably raising their prices lower their prices to what they were back in December 2022, but not everyone feels their moves are correct.

Economic analyst Damir Novotny was a guest on N1 television's Novi Dan/New Day, during which he commented on price hikes and inflation trends, as well as the government's moves as a result of the above.

Commenting on the new data on inflation and whether it is a decreasing trend, Damir Novotny said: "It's possible, but not because of the movement on the Croatian market, but because of the global movement. This is happening on large markets such as those of the USA, France, etc, and that will spill over to Croatia. It's possible that the trend of slowing growth will spill over into Croatia, but prices will not return to what they were back in 2020."

When asked why most products are cheaper in other countries, which is especially evident after the introduction of the euro, the economist explained the details:

"The main reason is the difference in the tax burden. In Croatia, until recently, there was one rate, 25%, and it's higher than the VAT rate. That rate is very high compared to the rates in Austria, Germany, Italy... not to mention the reduced rates. Austria has 9.5% VAT on all food products, including pet/animal food, taxed at significantly lower rates than in Croatia. Lastly, excise taxes in Slovenia are very low. Here in Croatia, there is an excise tax on plain water, while in Slovenia such an excise tax is very low or non-existent. Jana is therefore cheaper in Slovenia. Another important component of price growth in this country is the long-term closed market. While we had one monopolist, one litre of oil cost 15 kuna back in the year 2000, which is a very high price. And thirdly, in a short period of time over the summer, Croatia has a sudden increase in demand for all goods due to the tourist season. Ten million people come to the Croatian market, the demand increases and those people are ready to pay almost any price."

When asked whether or not it is really realistic to expect what the government is asking from traders in reality, which is the return of December prices, Novotny pointed out:

"For the past twenty years, every single government has chosen an enemy in the private sector. Milanovic's government turned the banking sector into enemy number one. Now this government wants to make the trade sector the enemy, they constantly talk about traders being dishonest. This isn't the discourse of market-oriented economies... Of course, the government needs to have an institutional framework to try to protect consumers and force retailers to disclose product defects, but that's impossible. Hundreds of thousands of items cannot be controlled."

When asked if it was possible to reduce the VAT and whether it would affect the movement of prices, he said: "I think it's impossible. Once the VAT is raised, which was done by Jadranka Kosor, it can't be reversed. The government relies on VAT when it comes to tax revenue, which is the most important source of tax revenue and it is indeed a generous tax. The government will probably maintain this tax burden, and this individual reduction leads to nothing. Government interference in prices is a wrong direction for government policies.

The government reacted, at least in my opinion, unnecessarily abruptly, there was hysteria, the media from Germany, Turkey, Poland, Slovenia called me, asking what was happening. Europe saw that something was happening in Croatia, but they didn't understand why it was happening. Prices have been rising across the entire EU."

Novotny pointed out that it is not true that Zagreb is unjustifiably raising its water prices: "That is not true, the price of water was terribly low here."

He also noted that he doesn't expect any further price increases, explaining that we have now passed the first energy shock and that we won't see a sharp rise in prices again. "I see that retirees are the ones who complain the most, and it's true that pensions are very low in this country, the government needs to intervene there if anywhere," concluded Novotny.

Now the Eu(ro)phoria surrounding Eurozone and Schengen accession has died down, Plenkovic and Milanovic are back to falling out with each other

Plenkovic had a recent interview for French television during which he discussed the vote in the Croatian parliament on the training of Ukrainian soldiers. He said that journalists keep asking him about it and he has to explain to them repeatedly what it's all about.

"It's not a denunciation, I heard what Zoran Milanovic said about all this. Imagine coming out with some thesis that Croats are some kind of American slaves. These are serious theses, what kind of anti-American policy, anti-NATO policy is that? These absurdities never end. These are very serious political mistakes that people in the political community are shocked by. They ask: 'Hello, what is Croatia saying here!?'' he stated, saying that those who have been observing the situation will know precisely where Croatia stands when it comes to the Russia-Ukraine war, and that is firmly by the side of Ukraine and firmly against Russia.

"I'm talking about this again because journalists keep asking me about it," he repeated, before opening fire on Milanovic again. "He's leading an absurd policy against Croatian interests..." concluded the Prime Minister when discussing his disapproval of Milanovic's recent bizarre statements about being ''America's slaves''. The two have had an ongoing issue for a long time now, and never miss an opportunity for the claws to come out.

For more on Croatian politics, make sure to check out our dedicated section and follow our Week in Croatian Politics articles which are published every Friday.

Friday, 20 January 2023

Norwegian Company Statkraft Reveals Scale of Croatian Energy Bill Worries

January the 20th, 2023 - The Norwegian company Statkraft has shed light on the scale of Croatian energy bill worries, among other things, in its research. Statkraft is otherwise Europe's largest producer of renewable energy.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, the aforementioned Norwegian company conducted a survey among more than 18,000 respondents across nine countries, including the Republic of Croatia, about what consumers think about climate change and the current soaring energy prices.

Overall, at the level of all the countries included in the research, three quarters of respondents are concerned about the negative consequences of climate change and see one of the solutions lying precisely with renewable energy sources. More than two-thirds (69%) believe that the development of renewable energy sources should be a priority given the problems with climate change and energy supplies. Almost a quarter of those surveyed (23%) said that their perception of renewable energy sources has become more positive over the last six months, while the overall rate of acceptance of wind power plants and solar power plants is now at the level of 80 and 87 percent, respectively.

Croatian energy bill worries are the highest, just like they are for the Irish

Of all the countries surveyed, concern about the potentially higher cost of electricity was highest in Ireland (86%) and Croatia (81%). When asked about electricity prices, 81% of people surveyed here in Croatia are concerned about the possible costs of their electricity bills; 62% of the respondents think that they may not be able to cover the expected increase in energy prices with their savings, while as many as 85% think that more and more serious investments in renewable energy sources across Croatia should have been made a very long time ago.

Despite this pressure of rising energy prices that people feel, 50% of respondents in Croatia say that due to other challenges they're dealing with in life, they don't have time to look for more favourable options for supplying electricity.

Respondents in Croatia also showed the greatest concern among all countries regarding the security of an energy supply – 77% of respondents stated that they were concerned about the issue of security of energy supplies. At the same time, 56% of the respondents from Croatia - again the highest percentage among all the surveyed countries - say that they were primarily motivated by the war in Ukraine to take such a view and attitude; 79% of citizens claim that they began to consider the topic of energy in a more significant way only because of this war.

Croatia also leads the way in terms of awareness of sources of electricity – the vast majority of respondents (87%) claim that they know where their energy comes from; this is again the highest percentage in this survey across all of the involved countries.

Arnaud Bellanger, Statkraft's manager for the Republic of Croatia, commented on the survey results in Croatia with the following words: "These survey results show clear public support for the development of clean energy, with people wanting Croatia to act quickly on this. By increasing the production capacity of renewable energy and reducing dependence on fossil fuels, Croatian consumers can be additionally protected from changes on an unstable market which is facing rising costs.''

Croatian residents are aware of the issue of climate change, but mostly they don't know about the initiatives that are trying to solve this pressing problem

Croatian residents are well aware of the issue of climate change, and 75% of respondents in this survey said they were worried about the direct consequences of climate change on them and their families. They're mostly worried about floods, fires, heat waves and a rise in sea levels (48%), the impact on human health (42%), the negative impact on food prices (40%), the impact on human and animal habitats (39%) and the inability to plan for the future because of these dire uncertainties (23%).

However, in this survey, as many as 93% of Croats said that they weren't aware of any specific goals and activities that the country is undertaking to become carbon neutral. Respondents are divided about who should primarily solve the problem: 36% of people say that they don't feel any pressure or incentive to face the problem themselves, while 31% are very aware of it and feel a need to act.

Public support for significant expansion of renewable energy sources

Croatian residents believe that the government should primarily encourage solving the problem of climate change through more policies and incentives to reduce carbon emissions, including incentives for electric vehicles (56% of respondents), the faster introduction of clean energy for personal and business use (46%), the better education of people about how they can reduce their carbon footprint on their own (49%), more incentives for the use of clean energy in companies and industry (59%) and an easier process for planning initiatives that work to fight climate change (42%).

Faced with rising energy prices due to the war in Ukraine and the climate crisis, respondents in Croatia overwhelmingly (75%) said that significant expansion of production capacity in the area of renewable energy sources must become a priority throughout Europe. One third of Croatian respondents - 34% of those surveyed - say that they view renewable energy sources, stimulated by these crises during the past months, much more favourably than they did before.

For more, make sure to check out our news section.

Page 8 of 3744

Search